Skip to main content

Greenhouse gases hit a new record in 2018, says U.N.


Fire fighters battle the so-called Sand Fire in the Angeles National Forest near Los Angeles, California, United States, July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Gene Blevins.    TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - S1BETRRVKJAA
Extreme weather events like this 'Sand Fire' in Los Angeles are adding to greenhouse gas emissions.
Image: REUTERS/Gene Blevins
  • The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose from 405.5 parts per million in 2017 to 407.8 ppm in 2018
  • The World Meteorological Organization found the annual increase in another greenhouse gas methane was the highest since 1998
  • The figures come ahead of the U.N. climate change summit in Madrid next week
Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit a new record in 2018, exceeding the average yearly increase of the last decade and reinforcing increasingly damaging weather patterns, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday.
The U.N. agency’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin is one of a series of studies to be published ahead of a U.N. climate change summit being held in Madrid next week, and is expected to guide discussions there. It measures the atmospheric concentration of the gases responsible for global warming, rather than emissions.
Image: WMO
“There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases’ concentration in the atmosphere - despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“This continuing long-term trend means that future generations will be confronted with increasingly severe impacts of climate change, including rising temperatures, more extreme weather, water stress, sea level rise and disruption to marine and land ecosystems,” said a summary of the report.
The concentration of carbon dioxide, a product of burning fossil fuels that is the biggest contributor to global warming, surged from 405.5 parts per million in 2017 to 407.8 ppm in 2018, exceeding the average annual increase of 2.06 ppm in 2005-2015, the WMO report said.
Irrespective of future policy, carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for centuries, locking in warming trends.
“It is worth recalling that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago,” Taalas said.
“More hopeful than I used to be"
The annual increase in methane - a greenhouse gas that is more potent than CO2 but dissipates faster - was the highest since 1998, said the report, which includes data from dozens of sites as well as naval and aerial measurements.
For nitrous oxide, which helps to erode the atmosphere’s ozone layer and expose humans to harmful ultraviolet rays, it was the biggest increase ever recorded.
Asked about the Madrid talks, which begin on Dec. 2, Taalas said there were some grounds for optimism.
High-rise buildings are seen through smoke from bushfires during sunset in Sydney, Australia.
Image: REUTERS/Stephen Coates
“What is good news is the visibility of these issues is higher than ever,” he told journalists. “So, personally, I’m more hopeful than I used to be 10 years ago, but of course we have to speed up the process.”

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

7 eating habits that we know are good for us:

1. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits – Some countries are very specific about the number of servings of fruits and vegetables that we should consume daily, for example Greece says six, Costa Rica and Iceland say five. Canada even specifies the colors of vegetables to consume (one dark green and one orange vegetable a day). Serving sizes can vary by country; however, all guidelines recommend eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits on a daily basis.

2. Watch your intake of fats– Said in different ways, most guidelines make mention of reducing solid, saturated fats and give recommendations for replacing animal fats with vegetable oils. In Greece, olive oil is recommended, in Viet Nam it is sesame or peanut oil – demonstrating the importance of availability and cultural preference in each country’s guidelines.3. Cut back on foods and beverages high in sugar – It is generally agreed upon that processed sugar is harmful to our health. The guidelines in every country recommend to maint…

Humans are a massive minority on Earth. Why don't we act like it?

Humans are a massive minority on Earth. Why don't we act like it?

Most of us, including scientists, are blind to the full scope of the living world. This was illustrated by an informal survey which asked biologists and ecologists from elite universities two questions. In terms of mass, is the living world mostly composed of animals, plants or bacteria? And is there more global biomass on land or in the oceans? The majority of them answered both questions incorrectly.In an age of unparalleled access to information, this is a glaring gap in our knowledge. We are now equipped to close it. I joined colleagues from the Weizmann Institute in Israel and the California Institute of Technology to estimate the biomass of all kingdoms of life on Earth. The results were published in the journal of the American National Academy of Sciences, and were widely (and more digestibly) covered by the popular press.It required years of work, collecting and integrating information from hundreds of previ…

Chart of the day: These countries create most of the world’s CO2 emissions

With CO2 levels on the rise, being able to track global emissions is crucial. Image: REUTERS/Regis Duvignau Just two countries, China and the US, are responsible for more than 40% of the world’s CO2 emissions. With CO2 levels still on the rise, being able to track the global emissions hotspots is becoming more important than ever. Before the industrial revolution, levels of atmospheric CO2 were around 280 parts per million (ppm). By 2013, that level had breached the 400ppm mark for the first time. On 3 June 2019 it stood at 414.40ppm. Fifteen countries are responsible for more than two thirds of global CO2 emissions. Image: Visual Capitalist There are huge disparities between the world’s top 15 CO2 emissions-generating countries. China creates almost double the emissions of second-placed US, which is in turn responsible for more than twice the level of third-placed India.